Not Risky at All

The High Risk EP (Independent)

The notion of "High Risk" fits what Joel Henderson does on several levels. It could describe the poker game pictured on the cover of the CD, or the risk involved in putting your name and voice on a CD in the first place. "High Risk" is also the title track, which warns of the gambles of entering into a relationship ("There are winners and losers in every hand."). But there's nothing risky at all about Henderson himself - this EP is as close as you'll come to a safe bet.

Originally released in 2003 as a DIY demo, Henderson is reissuing The High Risk EP in hopes of catching the ears of folks in his new hometown of Louisville. The six songs on High Risk are highly suggestive and yet put forth with just the right touch of simplicity. There's nothing overdone here, because nothing needs to be. Henderson's thoughtful lyrics and evocative voice are so strong that they easily carry each song into the listener's mind, stirring up familiar images and memories as if Henderson was standing right beside you.

A good example is "If Only We Would Talk," in which Henderson longs for a paternal relationship after a tragic death: "And at the wheel is my old man / Someone I don't know at all / Surely he could use a friend right now / If only we could talk." Similarly, his ache for a return of peace and hope in the Christmas-themed "Still I Want Nothing More" echoes a universal human longing for a new start. What's so amazing is that Henderson is able to convey these deep, existential desires in just a few poignant words.

Henderson can't be pinned down in terms of style; he easily glides from folk to soft-spoken pop, with a touch of country, as well. The label we can hang on Henderson is one of an enormously talented newcomer to the Louisville music scene who deserves to be heard. Odds are you'll like him a lot.

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